Most people have Christmas traditions that they do every year, whether it’s personal to them or popular in that country. Just like the ghosts from Scrooge, we’ve gone through past, present and future habits, so you can find out the origin of some classic ones, and imagine about what future traditions might be like.
Whether funny, thoughtful or cheeky we all love a good Christmas card. Although the tradition is very much still around, Christmas cards weren’t a thing until 1843. They were created as a way to encourage people to use the services of the Public Records Office, which we now know as the Post Office. The high levels of popularity caused it to spread throughout Europe until it became as popular as we know it to be today.
Leaving stockings out at Christmas originated with St Nicholas (year 270), who was known for his generosity. He sent bags with gold down a chimney on Christmas day, to help a poor man who had a family to support. The gold fell into a stocking that was left hanging to dry, and this is how Santa Claus’ Christmas story started.
Christmas markets in the UK
Christmas markets can now be found all across the UK, but it is a new tradition which has only been around for the past few decades. They became a popular Christmas activity for those tired of the packed shopping centres and overwhelming queues, and soon most people in Britain were on board with the lights, smell of food and warmth of drinks. It is now seen as another way of enjoying the spirit of Christmas.
With the introduction of German Christmas markets as a UK tradition also came our favourite festive drink: Mulled wine, Glühwein in German.
A few years ago, there were only 2 options when someone asked you how you like your coffee: black or white. Now, aside from cappuccinos, mochas and so on, we also have Christmas coffees (which are made by adding ingredients such as ginger or peppermint). However, despite not having been around for long, they’ve become another Christmas tradition, and the excitement is definitely real when red cups come to our local coffee shops each December. This also poses the much debated question of “Christmas at Starbucks or Costa?”.
A big part of this season is festive food, and even though it’s hard to picture, in the future technology might affect the way in which we host Christmas meals. There’s already been lots of research around printing food. Institutions such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology or Cornell University's Computational Synthesis Lab, are creating 3D food printers. In a few years, those who don’t enjoy cooking will be able to download food from recipe files straight out of TV shows, books and even your doctor’s recommendations. Dishes will be more customizable, enabling you to pick nutritional values, make edits for picky friends or fussy customers at restaurants, and so on.
For some, it might seem hard to imagine Christmas without involving weeks of cooking and constantly messy kitchens, but it seems like downloading and printing food is an alternative that might end up being part of our festive traditions in the not so distant future.
If we think about the older generations that used to decorate their homes for Christmas with holly and evergreens they’d pick up from their gardens, it isn’t hard to see how much festive decorations have evolved. Each year, there’s new options for people to get their home ready for Christmas – and they’re getting more and more technological; from electronic Christmas trees to digital baubles. In a few years, we might look back at today and be shocked that we buy real trees, paper cards or plain baubles!
Regardless of whether your traditions are of past, present or future, have an amazing Christmas!